NEW YORK, NY — Verizon Wireless today reiterated its support for the statewide responsible driving bill signed into law today by Governor George Pataki, and demonstrated that support through consumer-oriented measures.
"We have supported statewide legislation in New York for more than a year and we're pleased lawmakers in Albany have passed a bill that established uniformity throughout the state," said Charles Hand, president of Verizon Wireless' New York Metro Region. "New York's law makes sense because it allows hands-free use of wireless phones while driving, exempts emergency calls and supercedes local ordinances."
The company also announced a limited-time discount on headsets and other measures designed to make it easy, convenient and affordable for consumers to comply with the new statewide legislation. Scheduled to take effect November 1, 2001, the law will require the use of hands-free devices when using cell phones while driving in New York State.
Beginning July 1, 2001, Verizon Wireless will offer a 20 percent discount on all hands-free headsets purchased at all company Communications Stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The discount will run through July 31, 2001.
Consumers can also order headsets by calling 888-466-4646. Pamphlets that explain the options available for hands-free cell phone use, including headsets, voice-activated dialing and dashboard-mounted speakerphone kits, will be available at all Verizon Wireless stores and authorized agents.
The company will also launch a national responsible driving education program by year's end to educate drivers about using a wireless phone responsibly when behind the wheel.
"We'll promote the new law by making consumers aware of the hands-free devices available to them and by educating them about driving responsibly," Hand said.
He said every Verizon Wireless Communications Store contains prominent displays of hands-free devices. Headsets and earbuds, the most popular products, are available in a variety of styles, from over-the ear models to full-functional headsets, and typically range in price from $15 to $40. Another option is a hands-free car kit that is installed in the vehicle and includes a microphone and speakerphone mounted near the driver. Car kits sell for about $200. In addition, some phones, such as the Verizon Wireless Smartphone, feature voice-activated dialing which allows you to speak a name and the phone will dial automatically, and built-in speakerphone capability.
To provide even more hands-free options for customers, Verizon Wireless is requiring handset manufacturers to include, by 2002, built-in speakerphone capability, voice-activated dialing and a universal headset jack to support headsets into the handsets they produce.
"We invite all wireless customers to visit our stores or website for a wide selection of hands-free devices and information about responsible driving," Hand said.
Teachers or school administrators interested in the Responsible Driving Education Program, which includes a video and self-administered test, may contact Verizon Wireless at 845-365-7212 for additional information.
Verizon Wireless has long supported statewide legislation requiring the use of hands-free devices in those states where there is a public and political will to take this step. Specifically, the company supports legislation that requires drivers using wireless phones to use hands-free devices such as headsets; explicitly exempts calls to 9-1-1 and other emergency services from penalty; is non-discriminatory and assesses penalties equivalent to other statewide distracted driving laws; and has a three-year phase-in (similar to safety belt laws) to allow wireless customers time to upgrade their handsets to ensure hands-free capability.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 27 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.